Sunday, May 15, 2016

Spring Garden: Tulip Time

May 15th and Tulip Time has come and gone. But I was on my game enough to capture some highlights  and share them here.

What was different about this year's tulips is that I didn't pull the leaves and stems last year after they bloomed and replant new bulbs in the fall, a practice I've been doing for at least 10 years. When I worked in the Netherlands for Gallup  back in the mid 2000's, the Dutch folks told me that they treat  the tulip as an annual and if I wanted the best, most robust blooms, I should pull the stems and leaves immediately  after they bloom, then plant new bulbs in the spring.  It's more work and expense, but you always get a full crop of tulips.  So I did.

With retirement looming and thinking about tightening the expense column of the garden ledger, I decided last spring to keep the tulips as they were until the required 6 weeks after bloom time so the bulbs could recharge. The risk with this is that you may not get as full of a bloom as you did the first year the tulips were planted. But a risk worth taking I thought.

You can imagine my delight as the ground thawed and the tips of the tulips began to emerge. And when the blooms came, better than I had expected, I was really pleased.

If you go out in the garden today and look for tulip foliage, you will find it doing the required 6 weeks after bloom recharging. One more year,  I think. We'll see at Tulip Time next year.

The picture below ( obviously not a tulip is the flowering crab that we planted in our front yard in remembrance of our daughter-in-law, Patti, who passed away several years ago from lupus. Every spring it reminds of her even though she is with us always.

Spring Garden: Iris Fest

Today is May, 15th which means that we are right in the middle of iris season here in Nebraska. It has been a glorious spring so far after a relatively mild winter. All of that means that the iris bloom this year has been as abundant as I can remember.

I have a very clear memory of walking into the backyard at 935-35th Street in Des Moines, Iowa on a spring day in May of 1960. As we piled out of the car at our new home, I quickly found my way to the backyard. What I discovered I've never forgotten: bluebells, lily of the valley,bleeding hearts, peonies, lilacs and iris. Lots of iris.  So my love of spring flowers, especially iris, comes from an experience that was imprinted in my memory at that moment in time.

Now that the tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinths have faded away, and with the early summer hodgepodge of flowers yet to appear, it is showtime for the iris collection in the garden. And what a show they have put on this year. I have small clumps of iris that haven't bloomed every year and all of them have produced flowers this year. And the larger, more robust groups have delivered as usual.

Here is a sampling of the iris (and a few other spring blooms) that are delighting us with their show of color this spring. By Memorial Day, most of them will have closed their show and will give way to the flurry and cacophony of the summer garden. But for now, they are headliners, putting on yet another beautiful spring Iris Fest performance. Enjoy!

This iris is called "Batik"
This iris is in a clump where there has to be 40 or 50 blooms.

This iris didn't bloom last year, but what a rich  shade of orange.

This iris didn't bloom last year either.

This iris is also one of the more robust and vigorous performers.
What a lovely combination of browns, fairly unusual for iris.
I love this almost black-like deep purple of this iris.
This might be my favorite this year, so delicate and  light.
I call this "butterscotch custard".

Count the blooms in this group!

Here are some other spring performers on stage during Iris Fest.

This is False Blue Indigo shot from ground level looking up at the lovely blue-ish sky
The lovely and fragrant blooms of "Little Kim" the Korean dwarf lilac.
A close-up of a Weigela  shrub, a lovely spring bloomer.
Another shot of "Little Kim" dwarf lilac just before she blooms and fills the yard with her sweet fragrances.